June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”) Awareness Month. For our community, raising awareness about this condition comes at a very appropriate time.
On Memorial Day weekend, an active shooter created local terror. Subsequent investigation and news reports revealed that the shooter was a veteran who was suffering from PTSD. The tragedy of the situation is compounded by the fact that the incident occurred on the weekend that veterans who gave their lives for our country were being honored.
Services are available for military personnel who suffer from PTSD. Returning veterans who experience PTSD, addiction, or other traumatic brain injury have resources with which to fight the conditions.
For the Veteran
For local veterans, there are many services available for treatment of PTSD and other combat-related traumatic injuries at the Michael E. Debakey Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center (“the VA” or “VA hospital”). The same services are provided nationwide at VA hospitals across the country. The key is picking up a smart phone.
A veteran’s hotline is available for any veterans who are struggling, need to talk, or are in immediate crisis. Billed as a suicide prevention hotline, the phone number actually serves greater needs. Counseling and guidance are available for those veterans who are enduring drug addiction, depression, PTSD, or any other mental health crisis.
The hotline number is 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-SAFE.) Veterans may also chat online at www.veteranscrisis.net. Finally, veterans may send a text message to 838255.
At each point of access, counselors trained in combat related conditions will respond. The support is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Veterans may use these services whether or not they have previously enrolled or obtained medical care at a VA hospital. Contact is private and confidential. The identifying information of the veteran accessing the service is not recorded unless it is provided voluntarily.
For the Family
The VA has a program designed specifically for those families in crisis as a result of a veteran’s struggles with PTSD. Coaching into Care provides support for families of those veterans who have not yet obtained care.
Very simply, the Coaching into Care program was designed to help families talk with veterans about PTSD and the need for treatment. Confidential guidance is provided to families about how to access care and how to talk with a veteran about treatment options. Loved ones are coached about how to encourage and motivate a veteran to get care.
Coaching into Care operates during business hours at 1-888-823-7458. The phone call is confidential and free.
Frightening situations, such as the active shooter event on Memorial Day weekend, are tragic reminders of the consequences of failure to address PTSD and other combat related trauma injuries. Productive and successful treatment options are available at the local VA hospital. They are easily accessible by phone and internet.
Encourage those you know who may benefit from services to reach out. Every veteran has earned the support that can be received from the VA hospital. Treatment options are available, and any level of suffering can be alleviated or improved.
Veterans are heroes. They deserve our recognition, respect, and gratitude. When they need our help, we will be there. The VA is armed with programs, treatment options, counseling, and support; it is ready for the fight.